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Environment and Sustainability

Deforestation: more than 20% of Brazil is already gone

A piece of news that should impress anyone: Brazil burned more than 185 million hectares between 1985 and 2022. This area is equivalent to the sum of the territories of Colombia and Chile, or about 21.8% of the national territory. 

Imagine setting fire to more than one-fifth of the land of your house. That is what happened! More worrying than these numbers are the impacts generated from this reality. Has greening the planet become an increasingly or less challenging mission? Let's take advantage of the reading to understand a little more about this subject.

Why does this happen anyway?

Deforestation in Brazil is a large-scale problem that has drawn worldwide attention. The country has one of the largest areas of tropical forests on the planet, including the Amazon, the Cerrado, and the Atlantic Forest. All play a key role in maintaining global climate balance and are home to a huge variety of animal and plant species.

Deforestation is not just destroying a certain area, because the consequences are widespread. It seems obvious or repetitive to say this, but we are a society that shares the same "house". And this is why the whole world keeps an eye on Brazil when it comes to the environment.

The causes of deforestation are diverse and complex, such as:

  1. Expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching: The creation of pastures for cattle and the expansion of agriculture are responsible for a large part of deforestation in Brazil. Often the deforested areas are used for the production of soy, corn, meat, and other agricultural products that are exported.
  2. Illegal logging: Illegal logging is a common practice in many areas of the country. The wood is used for the production of furniture, paper, cellulose and other products, both for domestic consumption and for export.
  3. Mining: Mining is also a major cause of deforestation in Brazil. The extraction of minerals such as gold, bauxite, and iron often involves the destruction of large areas of forest.
  4. Infrastructure construction: the construction of roads, hydroelectric plants, dams, and other infrastructure works also lead to deforestation. These projects often require the removal of large areas of forest to make way for construction.
  5. Forest fires: Forest fires can be caused by a variety of reasons, including drought, human action, and climate change. These fires cause significant damage to forests and accelerate the process of deforestation.

How does deforestation put life at risk?

The effects are alarming and go far beyond what most people imagine, a cycle that we call the cascade effect. In other words, it is not just a matter of harming the atmosphere due to pollution from burning or clearing a vegetated area.

Deforestation puts life on the planet at risk in many ways, among them:

  • destruction of natural habitats;
  • soil erosion;
  • climate change;
  • loss of biodiversity;
  • increase in respiratory diseases;
  • reduction of natural resources, including food for indigenous communities and local populations.

The awareness of the importance of forests and the need to protect them should be a priority anywhere in the world, seeking to reconcile the economic development of countries without costing the environment so much - basically, what we call sustainable development.

What do we need to do?

Isn't it "just" protecting and reforesting? In reality, this is a complex problem, far from being a simple equation like "let's plant more trees and stop the burning. There are thousands of factors and agents involved, and clearly the solution will not happen overnight.

The Brazilian government has made efforts to combat deforestation, with the implementation of laws and environmental conservation policies, such as the Forest Code and the Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon. However, these efforts are often insufficient and enforcement is still precarious, which allows illegal activities to continue to take place.

Planting trees in an uncontrolled manner won't work either. If reforestation is impulsive (i.e., without a good execution plan) it can end up being counterproductive, damaging species diversity or agricultural crops. Environmental restoration is a process that requires care and planning that considers basic elements such as climate, altitude, soil type, and regional factors.

A good reforestation project must count on stages from pre-planting, covering the control of competing plants, the verification of soil acidity and its correction, the fertilization process, among others. By planting in areas where there was previously devastated vegetation, the restoration of the ecosystem will generate a series of benefits, of which we highlight

  • the absorption of CO²,
  • recovery of springs and protection of watersheds,
  • maintenance of biodiversity,
  • control of the climate crisis and high temperatures.

And what can't we do?

Imitating the Disaster Girl meme and standing by with our arms folded. Our mission is to green Brazil again! Come be part of a large community of environmental restorers with Abundance Brazil.

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